Embark on a holiday in your own backyard when you travel to the Blue Mountains, and brace yourself for a wilderness experience that will be embedded in your memory for years to come.
There's a reason tourists and locals alike adore the Blue Mountains - they're absolutely stunning. Nestled in New South Wales, it's well worth a trip to explore the natural wonder of this untouched paradise. Here's what you need to know about the area.
The Blue Mountains are located to the west of Sydney, presenting a World Heritage-listed area just 90 minute's drive away from the bustling city. Travel by car and pass through Windsor and Kurrajong, along with small towns such as Katoomba and Leura. This route provides you with the chance to see the famous Three Sisters at Echo Point.
You could also travel by train, with CityRail servicing the region and providing plenty of stops along the way. Coach companies also offer trips and tours around the Blue Mountains area. If you're travelling from interstate, fly into Sydney airport and go from there - half the fun is in the journey.
Just make sure to book in some holiday accommodation for your visit, as you're bound to find plenty to do in the area to encourage you to stay a while.
Pack your walking shoes and warm clothing for your trip, as the Blue Mountains provides plenty of exquisite bushwalk opportunities.
Start from the Blue Mountains Heritage Centre. Here you'll find information about popular and safe bushwalking trails to embark on, as well as purchasing maps to guide your walks. You may also wish to join a guided tour or organised discovery walk, where food and gear is transported ahead so walkers can roam freely without heavy packs.
Head to Wilson Park in North Lawson and walk 500 metres past the swimming pool for a circuit around Dantes Glen, Empire Pass and Frederica Falls. Admire waterfalls, explore rainforests and get photos by the fern-lined pools and creeks. A guide book is recommended for this walk as there are steep sections, however bird watchers will be rewarded with plenty of feathered friends fluttering about.
Dedicated bushwalkers flock to the area in October each year to participate in the Lithgow and Oberon Tourism Festival of Walking. This celebrates fresh air and the backyard that is the Blue Mountains, with everything from street walks to hardcore wilderness tramps hosted.
The Blue Mountains has been inhabited by Aboriginal Australians for tens of thousands of years, and as such the area has plenty of indigenous cultural sites for you to explore and learn from. Visit Katoomba's Waradah Aboriginal Centre to experience everything from traditional dance and didgeridoo performances through to perusing a wide range of traditional art works.
Combine your love of nature and learning with an Aboriginal Blue Mountains Walkabout Tour, which teaches guests about what life was like for the local Darug people. The Aboriginal-owned and guided company takes you through sacred sites with a secluded bushwalk and rainforest exploration. Try bush tucker, learn about bush medicines and discover more about traditional body painting. You'll also see sandstone caves and get the chance to rest by a rock pool and waterfall.
Many of the Blue Mountains' walks include Aboriginal cultural sites, some of which will be marked in your guide map. Travel the Red Hand Caves walking track from Glenbrook, which has been used by the Darug people for thousand of years. Alternatively, take the Lydebird Dell track from Leura to see gorge country and cave sites of Aboriginal significance.
If you prefer to explore new places on two wheels as opposed to two feet, try cycling your way around the Blue Mountains.
Start with Lithgow's Bicentennial trail, which is of medium difficulty and is just over eight kilometres each way. If you're not up to tackling the whole thing, start out at the Gardens of Stone National Park and cycle the Crown Creek fire trail, a section of the Bicentennial track.
Blackheath's Burramoko Ridge (Hanging Rock) cycle trail is another medium difficulty track, with a length of six kilometres each way. This takes you to the edge of the Grose Wilderness, but it's not for the faint hearted. It travels along a ridge to an awe-inspiring rocky bluff, but the picturesque valley views make it more than worth your while.
Serious cyclists can try out Andersons trail, which is 31 kilometres each way and has a hard level of difficulty. It's exhilarating, taking you into the Blue Mountains National Park Wilderness, spanning untouched bushland and with links to the Woodford - Oaks trail if you feel like an extra challenge. Be warned, however, as there are very steep portions of this track and loose gravel to make for difficult conditions at times.